"They're leaving the church!" That’s the refrain I hear, and have shared, over and over again when the subject of youth* comes up. Those in leadership circles site studies by the Barna group, and tell anecdotal stories of youth who have left the church. Church hallways and meeting rooms are filled with leaders who opine about the millennials and just exactly how they should be retained, reclaimed or reached. The staggering percentage of Adventist youth who leave the church is a problem that must be faced and corrected, but let's not look longingly out to those who have passed through our doors and ignore those who have wholeheartedly invested themselves in their faith and who want to change their world for God.
You, Adventist youth , are the life-blood of God's last-day movement. It is "with such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained…" that "…the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior [will] be carried to the whole world!" (Education p 271)You have enthusiasm, energy, and a passion for doing something that impacts your world. You have a community of friends that are struggling to find answers to the persisting questions of spirituality. We want to bring you into an action plan for taking the gospel viral.
The North Pacific Union has just launched a yearly event called Wildfire which will inspire, train, and equip Adventist youth and new believers to share their faith. A young friend of mine recently shared her feelings about how youth and more experienced church members need to interact—the youth bring ideas and energy, and more experienced members bring wisdom and efficiency. Wildfire is not a typical conference where you sit and listen to a speaker. There will be experienced and effective speakers who will share practical ideas and inspirational messages, but their talks will be short with plenty of time for round-table discussions and interaction with the speakers and their ideas. It is this interaction that Wildfire seeks to foster—a collaborative, network building, idea sharing atmosphere where you can be mobilized to change your world.
Wildfire speakers include Joseph Kidder, a specialist in innovative evangelism from Andrews University; Tyler Long, evangelism coordinator for the Washington conference; Michael Tuazon, director of the Pacific Union's outreach leadership school—SOULS West; and Jason Worf, director of the North Pacific Union's outreach leadership school—SOULS Northwest. You will find their presentations to be practical, skills based, and inspiring so you can share your faith in your own community.
This November 6 and 7 will be the first Wildfire event, but we plan on continuing this effort to engage and mobilize a generation of youth that will take this gospel to the world in this generation.
Why wait? Let's #startawildfire today! If you are an Adventist youth or a new Adventist member, register to attend Wildfire at www.startawildfire.org. If you know someone who would benefit from a network of passionate and godly friends and a vision for changing the world, then sponsor them to attend Wildfire.
Registration is only $25 with meals and materials included in the registration fee. This year, Wildfire will be held at the Holden Convention Center in Gladstone, Oregon.
Written by: Jason Worf
*I include the 16 to 35 age group in my use of the word "youth" in this article